Percentage of 65+ drivers on US roadsAlthough someone else's carelessness is often the cause of a motor vehicle accident, sometimes the road itself can contribute to a car crash. Inadequate signage or warnings may also be a factor. As the Baby Boomers age, transportation officials are devising strategies to increase the safety and effectiveness of roadways for drivers who may be experiencing age-related mental, physical and visual changes.

Transportation agencies report that drivers over the age of 65 are the driver demographic that is growing the fastest in the US. Preliminary data from the US Department of Transportation says there are more drivers overall than ever before (about 217.9 million licensed drivers in the US), and that about 43 million (almost 1 in 5) of these drivers are over the age of 65.

Drivers over 65 increased 2 percent in 2015, compared to 2014. According to a report from the US Department of Transportation, estimates say there will be a 77 percent increase in drivers age 65+ by the year 2045. Because of these increases, it makes sense to plan and prepare for the needs of future drivers, many of whom will be in the 65+ age group.

Of course everyone ages individually – that is to say, you shouldn't make generalizations about physical changes related to aging. But it's fair to say that certain changes tend to accompany aging, although of course there may be exceptions:

  • Declining vision
  • Reduced flexibility
  • Reduced psychomotor abilities (such as hand-eye coordination)
  • Changes in cognition and cognitive performance
  • Changes in perceptual capabilities

The US DOT's Federal Highway Administration is working to better serve the needs of this driver demographic. Some of the advances being proposed are improved lighting, more visible signs and longer merging lanes. These types of measures may prevent car crashes, thereby reducing highway injuries and deaths.

Sources:

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom/fhwa1652.cfm

https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/older_users/handbook